Department of Energy officials concede that existing government installations can handle everything they want done at their proposed $6 billion Chemistry and Metallurgy Research Replacement-Nuclear Facility (CMRR-NF).

Senate and House appropriators also declined to fund the project this year, so why are Senate authorizers still pushing ahead with the project, budgeting $150 million for a proposal that was tabbed a “nuclear boondoggle” by the Project on Government Oversight’s (POGO) Mia Steinle.

“The Los Alamos National Laboratory—the contractor-run lab that would house CMRR-NF—and the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) in charge of that facility recently reassessed their plutonium pit manufacturing and sustainment needs. We hear that the new report from Los Alamos and a forthcoming report from NNSA will shed enough light on CMRR-NF so that Congress can make smart funding decisions,” said Steinle, who is a POGO investigator.

“The Los Alamos report—which is available to the senators, but not to the public—concludes that the lab does not need CMRR-NF to carry out its national security missions. And the forthcoming NNSA report will likely identify existing buildings that can handle these missions,” she said.

You can read Steinle’s full report here.

Feds arrest Oklahoma horse rancher for Mexican cartel links:

For years before he and his wife Zulema moved from near Dallas to a horse farm near a small town south of Oklahoma City in 2009, Jose Trevino was a hard-working bricklayer and she was employed by a staffing firm.

But people began to wonder when the Trevinos began running a massive racehorse operation from the farm that at one time saw more than 400 horses. It was the kind of facility that clearly required millions of dollars in operating capital, something a former bricklayer wasn’t likely to have.

The Trevinos didn’t have the capital but the FBI claims Jose did have a couple of well-placed contacts with the Los Zetas drug cartel in Mexico, according to Watchdog’s Nolan Clay. The contacts were Trevino’s two younger brothers, who are among the leaders of the Los Zetas cartel.

The Trevino couple was arrested at their Oklahoma ranch Tuesday after they and 13 others were indicted by a federal grand jury in Austin. The indictment claims the defendants participated in a $20 million money-laundering conspiracy.

“Besides Jose Trevino, 45, and Zulema Trevino, 38, remain in federal custody. Federal authorities made six other arrests last week, in California, Texas and New Mexico,” said Clay.

“Those indicted include Trevino’s brothers. Miguel Angel Trevino Morales, also known as ’40,’ was identified as one of the top two leaders of the Zetas,” Clay said. “Oscar Omar Trevino Morales, also known as ’42,’ was identified as also having a leadership role in the cartel. Neither has been arrested. Both are believed to be in Mexico.”

For Clay’s full report, go here.

Senate kills political convention subsidies:

Government Bytes, the blog of the National Taxpayers Union, didn’t find much to cheer about in legislative actions on the Senate floor this week but one amendment did draw kudos from the group that focuses on fighting excessive federal spending.

On a 95-4 vote, the Senate approved an amendment introduced by Sen. Tom Coburn, R-OK, to end federal subsidies for the Democratic and Republican national presidential nominating conventions. The subsidies could exceed $37 million for the two events.

“We’re borrowing money from the Chinese to fund a ‘Hallelujah Party’ in both Tampa and Charlotte this year, each one of them getting $18.4 million. It’s time that kind of nonsense stops,” Coburn said during the Senate debate.

The Coburn measure “prohibits the use of the Presidential Election Campaign Fund (that little box you can check to donate a few bucks at the end of your income tax return) for political party conventions in elections occurring after 2012,” Bytes said.

“As an added bonus, political parties are more than welcome to return the millions earmarked for the 2012 conventions to the Treasury to be used for deficit reduction,” Bytes added.

The four senators who opposed the Coburn amendment included Barbara Boxer, D-CA, Mary Landreiu, D-LA, Barbara Mikulski, D-MD, and Jay Rockefeller, D-WV. Go here for more from NTU.